Market Wrap: ASX boosted slightly by earnings

Market Reports

The Australian share market has closed 0.2 per cent higher, boosted by some positive earnings results.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index gained 11 points to finish at 4,253. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 10 points higher.

Economic news

Consumer confidence has risen, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute survey of consumer sentiment index rose to 101.1 index points in February.

Sales of new motor vehicles rose 1.3 per cent, seasonally adjusted in January. More than 85,000 new cars were sold in the month.

And personal finance commitments rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent to $7.093 billion in December. Business finance lending fell 0.9 per cent to $32.445 billion. Lease finance fell 13 per cent and housing finance for owner occupation rose 2 per cent.

Company news

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has reported half-year cash profit lifted 7 per cent. Cash profit rose to $3.57 billion for the six months to December 31, slightly above analysts’ expectations. The rising cash profit has been helped by a fall in impairment charges. Statutory net profit rose 19 per cent to $3.6 billion. The bank will pay an interim dividend of $1.37. Chief executive Ian Narev says he has no plans to send jobs offshore or for major redundancy programs. Commonwealth Bank shares closed 0.54 per cent higher at $50.23. 

Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has posted a record result for the six months to December, with net profit jumping 155 per cent to $US 801 million. That’s up from $US 314 million in the previous corresponding period. The record first-half earnings figure was slightly below analysts’ expectations. Fortescue has lowered its production guidance for the March quarter because of wet weather, warning the cost of its expansion project could increase by $US 200 million. Fortescue shares shed 1.43 per cent today, closing at $5.53.

Looking at some profit results: Westfield Group (ASX:WDC) has posted a net profit of $1.53 billion for the full year, up 37.6 per cent on last year.

The Reject Shop Limited (ASX:TRS) has posted a half year net profit of $16.6 million, a 4 per cent rise on the prior corresponding half.

Domino's Pizza Enterprises Limited (ASX:DMP) has booked a $12.6 million half year net profit, up 23 per cent on the corresponding period last year.

Carsales.com Limited (ASX:CRZ) has reported a net profit of $33.1 million for the six months to December, a 20 per cent rise.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts adding 20 points to close at 818. The worst performing sector was Consumer Discretionary, falling 5 points to close at 1,225 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200, was The Reject Shop Limited (ASX:TRS), rising 7.64 per cent to close at $11.84. Shares in Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT) and Westfield Group (ASX:WDC) also added value.

The worst performing stock was Aquarius Platinum Limited (ASX:AQP), dropping 6.48 per cent to close at $2.02. Shares in Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY) and Panoramic Resources Limited (ASX:PAN) also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,725 an ounce. Light crude is $1.01 higher at $US101.75 a barrel.